In June Vincent returned to Iraq to write a book about Basra. As the British military authorities look on indifferently, Basra, which was once the cosmopolitan center of Iraq, has since the January elections come under the control of radical Shi?ites who are closely allied with Iran and Hizbullah. In Sunday's New York Times, Vincent published an op-ed where he described this transformation and quoted an officer in the British-trained Basra police force who said that 75 percent of the force is loyal to Muqtada e-Sadr, the Iranian- and Hizbullah-backed terrorist chief who sparked the Shi?ite terror onslaught in southern Iraq in April 2004. Vincent also reported that the police, in the pay of extremist clerics, use their guns and vehicles at night to execute people accused of ties to the Ba?ath party. Hundreds have been murdered in this fashion.
According to witness reports of his abduction, Vincent was kidnapped by uniformed police officers who carted him away in their vehicle. If these reports are correct it would mean that Vincent was murdered for exposing the fact that the British military has trained and equipped a jihadi death squad which has taken over Basra and which will kill anyone who endangers their position and power.
IN MANY respects, Vincent's murder recalls the murder of Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam last November. Like Vincent, van Gogh was murdered by a jihadi for daring to expose the malevolent face of radical Islam in his documentary Submission. In it, he described the brutal oppression of women under radical Islam. While Vincent exposed the murderous machinations and oppressive culture of Islamic fascists in Iraq, van Gogh described their actions in his hometown. But they were both describing the same phenomenon and for their efforts at shining light on the face of the enemy, they were murdered.
The metaphor of shining a light on the enemy is an apt one. For like bats in a cave, the jihadi enemy prefers to operate in darkness - to obfuscate from us, his targets, his aims and his nature. This he accomplishes by hiding behind terms like "occupation" or "resistance" or "civil liberties" or by carrying out his terrorist operations against unarmed, unwarned civilians rather than face their military forces in battle.
And so, as Frank Gaffney, another warrior scribe, pointed out in the National Review on Thursday, "This may be a war unlike any other we have ever fought, but it is a war. Nothing less than our survival as a free, democratic and secular nation is at stake."
In this war, the enemy fights us in two separate ways. He terrorizes us with violence in order to make us capitulate. And, by hiding behind the ever-sympathetic guise of a victimized minority culture and religious group, he accuses us of the terrible crimes of racism and illiberalism when we dare to point out the fact that preaching jihad is not a simple exercise of free speech, but an act of war.
And that's the rub. In our liberal democracies, we are driven by a foundational belief in the sanctity of the freedom of dissent. But our enemy tramples that sanctity. For it is not dissent he preaches, but war. It is not democratic give-and-take that he is after, but our destruction. And if we wish to survive, we have to recognize the fact that when our cities are transformed into battlegrounds, our countries are at war. Those who call for jihad have nothing in common with those who call for a change in our government's policies, for the promulgation of new laws, or for new elections. Indeed they are their antithesis.
Happily, today, the reality that Vincent and van Gogh grasped immediately is now, in the wake of last month's bombings in London, finally beginning to be confronted by European leaders and societies. In the past week alone, Germany announced plans to deport 37 Islamic religious figures who have preached jihad; France has announced its intention to deport 12 such men, some of whom are to be stripped of their French citizenship; and Italy on Tuesday deported eight Islamic preachers. As French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy put it, it is necessary today to conduct "a wide-scale action of early detection" of people who abet and indoctrinate for jihad. He vowed to expel anyone who violates a French law passed last year which outlaws incitement of "discrimination, hatred or violence" against any group.
For their part, the British, who for years have been the warmest hosts of jihadists in the world, are in the process of promulgating laws that will enable the police to prosecute suspects before they commit attacks. As Home Office Secretary Hazel Blears explained last month, "Anyone who gets or provides training in bomb-making or other terror activities here or overseas can be charged." Another law in the works would make indirectly inciting terrorism with inflammatory statements a criminal offense.
Sadly and absurdly, as Europe finally awakens to the dangers of jihad, Israel is doing everything it can to remain firmly and deeply asleep. On Monday, the Haifa District Court obscenely acquitted Jamal Mahajneh from Umm el-Fahm of charges of accessory to murder and first-degree accessory to sabotage. Mahajneh transported a suicide bomber to the Maxim restaurant in Haifa in October 2003, where she murdered 21 people. Mahajneh was found guilty of the lesser offense of negligent manslaughter. The judges justified their ruling by arguing that they believed that Mahajneh did not know that the Palestinian woman, whom he spirited into Israel in spite of the fact that she lacked an entry permit and dropped off at the crowded restaurant, was a terrorist.
But in 2003, Israel had been at war for three years and its cities had long since been transformed into battlegrounds whose chief victims were its civilians. It was up to Mahajneh to realize that given this reality, there was a distinct possibility that the woman he transported to the restaurant was a terrorist. It was not the prosecution's duty to prove what he was thinking. His actions spoke loudly enough.
As with our judges, so with our media, our police, our cabinet ministers and our state prosecutors. The leadership of Israel is intent on ignoring the reality in which we live. In our topsy-turvy world, terrorists whose goal is the destruction of Israel receive mercy from justices and land, money, guns and legitimacy from the government. At the same time, the patriotic opponents of the government, all of whose actions, whether justified or misguided, are based solely on their desire to ensure the strength and viability of Israel, are castigated as violent adversaries who must be subdued and defeated with the full force of the law.
In Israel we actually already have the laws on the books that the Europeans are now busily legislating, that would enable us to make the necessary distinction between an enemy and a dissenter. What we lack is the political, cultural and legal leadership with the strength of character and vision of Steven Vincent and Theo van Gogh.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
Be the first to read Caroline Glick's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.
Showdown in Jackson Hole: The Fed Challenged on its Own Turf in Wyoming by Group Likely to Finally Start Dismantling it | Rachel Alexander